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Are showbred red setters ‘just red dogs, not setters’?

The showbred Irish setter is under fire. In his recently published book ‘The Irish Red Setter’, Raymond O’Dwyer states they “lack the conformation of a galloping dog that is clearly required of a setter”.

According to the author, chairman of the Irish Red Setter Club so motherclub of all FCI-countries, responsible for the standard in most of the world, differences in colour, size, conformation, energy and mental attitudes between showbred Irish setters in the English speaking world and workers/duals are “enormous”. He warns for the effect when this policy is continued.

What is your opinion? Is the showbred animal “just a red dog” and not an Irish setter anymore, like the book suggests?

More info on the book with reviews: http://www.corkuniversitypress.com

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Everyone is banging on about 'show' verses 'work' they all came from the same place....WE have taken them in different directions, but in most of them the brain is still the same, they mostly ALL want to work, you let them off in a field and what do they do..... they cast the field for game, and will usualy find it if it is there. It is only the specific training that they receive from a good hunter that makes them proficient at their jobs, that doesn't make the 'red dogs' we have in the ring any the less IRISH SETTERS they may differ in looks and they may differ in their ability to live with us in our houses but they are still IRISH SETTERS. My first setter (there is a picture of her on my page) was from Brackenfield/Hartsbourne and Raycroft lines, she had never worked a day in her life BUT she was put with a F.T.CH (in fact he was a full Champion.) in a field and by the end of the day she was working as well as him,(well she was working) she took her lead from him and INSTINCTAVLY did what he did.
I was informed of a complete show dog that was put through its junior trial in Germany and he came 2nd with 69pts a short while after having an operation, if he was a lap/house dog he would still be sitting in front of the fire. He had a willingness to work and he seemed to enjoy himself if his face was anything to go by.
A lot of these 'show' dogs still have the ability to work, and they still want to work. they are no less IRISH SETTERS just because WE don't want them to work, my young bitch could work all day, I admit that there are some that have lost the correct conformation but that is down to breeders not using the best stock, but judges have a lot to answer for, by putting up animals that do not have the correct movement and conformation, or feet. If the conformation of the skeleton it wrong then the movement is wrong and the ability to work for any length of time is definitely GONE.
Dee, Looking at the Irish Setter entries at Crufts this year, there were nearly 400 Irish Setters entered, but not even one Irish Setter entered in the Working, Field Trial or Gamekeeper classes, and not one UK full champion (a show champion with a show gundog working certificate).
Although I know there have been a couple of full champion Irish Setters in recent years

If the working ability is still there , it would be good to see a few more of them going out and proving it by getting a show gundog working certificate, running in field trials or qualifying for a gamekeeper class by working on a shoot. I wonder why there is so little apparent interest?

The other setter breeds, with lower numbers entered, all managed at least one or two in the working, FT or gamekeeper classes.
I agree, the main problem I can think of is the 'cost' there is the trainer, there is somewhere to to do the training etc etc I have said that my young girl would probably work. I would love to give her a go at it but as a pensioner I just can't afford it, I am at the moment trying to keep head above water with the showing side £25 entry fees each, at least £100 petrol to and from the show and for me there is the ferry to and from Ireland £115 it all adds up, if I was to start training her for field trials well you do the maths knowing what the pension is in this country, and I don't get a full pension because I looked after my children when they were young......... What I need is a sugar daddy to keep me in the manner that I would like to be accustomed!!!!!!! Joking aside I would like to give her a go at it BUT.... The other side to this is...as I said before some breeders just aren't breeding for sound construction and these dogs just couldn't do a days work. Dee and the girls
Well, I'm in the same situation , retired, widowed and living on a not very big pension. Also a very long way from shows (very close to where you used to live so you know the problems) .
You might be pleasantly surprised to find that getting a dog trained to work is actually less expensive than going to big shows. Colin Organ handled one of mine in field trials last year, and it cost me no more than doing three big shows down in England.
Also last year I trained my full champion bitch myself and she was easy to train, it was only the cost of the trip over to Ireland for the qualifier and 15 Euros for the field trial entry. And there was an Irish show the same weekend!

For financial reasons , if its a choice between doing a show or getting a dog trained, I would rather train the dog and miss a few shows - there are always plenty more shows to go to later on.
Who remembers if you got one more ticket or one less a few years from now? But they will remember if your dog was made up as a full champion

I think you are only about an hours drive from Peter O'Driscoll who runs training weekends in the Borders. And the KC are running training courses for setters and pointers in the north of England now too. At the very least , going on a training weekend would give you some realistic assessment of your bitch's potential
We will have to have a talk about this the next time we see each other, since my first girl whent out and worked like a professional I have always had a hankering to at least give it a go, does it matter if the animal in question is ''mad'' or would it be a help??????? Speak soon Dee
I have been looking at all the responses to this talk and it interesting that alot of the working breeds have the same feelings that the conformation and working dogs are two different dogs. When I was looking for my last Aussie working breeders could not understand why I felt that you had to have the conformation to be able to work. How do you expect your dog to be able to go out and do his or her job if their conformation does not allow them to. I believe that my dog can not work and play all day and stay sound if his conformation is bad. Am i saying this correctly.

When I decided that I wanted to get and Irish Setter I looked for a breeder who has titles in conformation and field. I was lucky that there was one in my area. I just wish I could do the field work with my dog as he shows an interest.
I think a lot of the different viewpoints in this discussion stem from the fact that we live in so many different parts of the world.

We are all (naturally) basing our coments on the working/show-lines closest to us.
Also the FT-tests are very different in different parts of the world.
I can quite honestly say that (basing this ONLY on what I have seen in Sweden) that finding a breeder that has stock with titles in both conformation and show over here would be a hopeless task.

Unless you can accept a dog having received their show-titles from pure hunting judges and on breed-shows only for FT-type dogs. These dogs are great for what they are bred for, but a mile appart from anything that would win in shows anywhere else.

So what seems like a piece of cake for Kathie, would be totally impossible for someone living in this part of the world.
There are not so many IRWS in Sweden and Norway , but the Swedish and Norwegian breeders and owners of IRWS, are trying very hard to breed and keep a single type. They have bred more from IRWS of working origin, but have also used dogs who can hold their own in the show ring, without losing the working ability. They have a breeding policy that is all about maintaining working ability and not letting the IRWS split into two different types
Some of the IRWS you may see in the show ring in Sweden are quite closely related to both field trial dogs from Ireland AND some UK show dogs. It can be done. And I like what they are doing
I know its hard to make up a Sh Ch in Sweden because the dog also needs to have had an award in a field trial
Margaret Sierakowski
Quite correct Margaret, the IRW setter in Sweden is more of one type.

This is NOT the case when it comes to the Irish setter. And yes, there are IRS that are show-champions as well here. (As the ones in Norway you sent a link for).

But the swedish show-system is favoring dogs that have won awards in the field to a degree that the two types (if that is what you would like to call them) do not compete on equal terms.
I know this kennel are not in Sweden, but in Norway


I have followed this website with interest for several years, and it seems to me that they have worked hard to breed Irish Setters who run succesfully in field trials, and are also good looking, and they have made up Show Champions too. They imported from Susan Russell-Matsumotu in Canada (who is on this list I think) who also has had success on both sides
I dont know if they are unique or whether there are more breeders like them im Norway and Sweden?
In the Summation of ‘The Irish Red Setter, its history, character and training’, author Raymond O’Dwyer calls his book the result of a “journey of learning”.

This topic was started because contents provoke discussions and the first Irish publication on Irish setters since 83 years is history. And that is –in my eyes- what we are also here for: trying to learn from each other on the basis of arguments.

Anyone with a keen interest in the breed can re-read all posts and next decide who has made points, back it or not or, to stay in setter terms, steal the point. Personally I’ve enjoyed passion in posts showing I’m not the only one fearing to lose my favourite red setter of youth days.

Recently Londa Warren began a new topic to “break this one down” in fact two: ‘Happy timing’ and ‘Which comes first? The Chicken or the Egg?’ Londa said she was getting confused because such a lot was going on in this thread.

A reader who gets confused is a signpost for more (silent) readers and for that reason plus the fact that my own time is completely running out, I want to end this thread. Some recent posts are a repeat and although that may be fascinating in fields, it is not attractive in a discussion. So join Londa’s –and others- topics.

Quite a few last posts dedicated to duals, makes a happy ending – it was O’Dwyer saying in his book a further split show/work would be “lamentable”. Hopefully contents will help prevent this. The topic itself is a new journey of learning, flying on each others wings.

I’d like to end it with a quote of an authority on Irish setters, Rasbridge. Just before the split began in UK-scenes he wrote (1961): “During the course of a year I get so many enquiries about the breed out of the blue and all too many of them contain some such phrase as ‘I understand Irish setters are such delicate dogs, is this so’.

“My standard reply is that if they are, they are not Irish setters, no matter what parentage or who bred them. A true Irish setter is unbelievably tough both in body and spirit. That’s what constitutes so much of the charm of the breed. “




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